Humans less evolved than chimps
Nothing so far discovered in DNA sequencing has been hugely important to anyone who isn’t a biologist. Having done a degree in biology, I find it quite interesting that they’ve confirmed the old theory that the remote ancestor of fish and land animals was much like the common ancestor of insects and snails, except our ancestral worms ‘flipped’. You might care, you might not, but what does that matter to human life?
But now we learn that chimps are more evolved than we are. (Chimps are the most refined ape of all, issue 2600 of New Scientist magazine, 21 April 2007, page 17) That’s pretty unexpected, though I mentioned a year or two back that rats and mice seem more evolved than primates, in terms of changes to their DNA. I confidently expect that they will also find that the ancestral worm that ‘flipped’ or did not flip has also evolved further in becoming an insect or snail than in becoming a fish or one of us.
Life on Earth permitted us, it does not require us. We humans emerged in one of life’s backwaters: the pitiful remnant of ape-people are often best dated by the flourishing communities of pigs that lived nearby. Only when you get close to the human condition do you have an ape-person (almost certainly male) who figured out that the neighbouring pigs were a potential meal.
Neither pigs nor humans would have been possible without the accidental death of the dinosaurs in a meteor strike. Probably one specialised offshoot of the dinosaurs survived as the creatures we know as birds – much as if all of the mammals were lost apart from bats. But the widely-reported story about similarities between the DNA of a chicken and a fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex means very little. Everyone interested already agreed that dinosaurs were related to birds as part of the Archaeosaur lineage, which also includes crocodiles. The interesting questions is whether a dinosaurs is closer to a chicken than a crocodile. Probably it is, but that work has yet to be done. ([http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,2056218,00.html], but the link is broken now.)
From Notes on the News, May 2007.